Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Strength of belief

I recently got this comment in response to a video I produced about audio interconnects and their differences.

“Not with an interconnect. Not possible. They all sound the same. Exactly the same. Do a double-blind test under lab conditions, you’d only ever guess it right 50% of the time. You won’t do that of course. You’d be found out.”

It’s clear this well intentioned person has a very strong belief in what he/she is saying. That belief is no doubt rooted in their own personal experience. I get it. If every time I tried different interconnects and heard zero difference then I too would believe the same thing.

And what’s even tougher about this paradox comes to us courtesy of the internet. No matter what your beliefs may be you can find supporting evidence on the web. The Earth is flat? There’s a conspiracy afoot? The pandemic is a hoax? Cables don’t matter? Bill Gates is out to take over the world? The Earth is hollow?

Long ago, research was far more tedious. One had to go to the library and actually read the literature on the subject. Because it takes time and effort to write and publish books, new ideas and conspiracy theories were far and few between.

Today, in the age of instant access to information—whether true or false—we can find justification for literally anything.

Did you know the moon is a hoax?

Going forward, it’s probably helpful to take a deep breath or a walk around the block before jumping too quickly into believing what information is presented to us—information that, as the old saying suggests, is too good or too absurd to be true.

Now, let me get back to that $5 million prize I just won just after I send that kind Nigerian Prince my bank account information.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

A whole new experience

Octave Record’s first release, pianist Don Grusin’s Out Of Thin Air, was a huge success and much loved by those who bought it on SACD or download. We’re nearly sold out of the final edition of the SACD.

The recording is one I am very familiar with, having heard it any number of times on the big system. It’s one of the best piano recordings I have ever heard.

And now we’re getting closer to releasing Out Of Thin Air on vinyl. We will press a limited edition of 500 LP’s on 180-gram virgin vinyl, mastered at 45 rpm and released on 4-discs.

But here’s the crazy thing. Having been personally involved in the process from day one, as Gus worked with the cutting engineer, I am flabbergasted by the sound. It is Soooo different (in a magical sort of way) than the master DSD from which it was cut.

How can this be?

These discs were cut directly from the DSD master, something almost never done (as we’ve learned). To facilitate the transfer our chief engineer, Bob Stadtherr, designed a DSD delay splitter that made certain the real-time cutting head feed (that sets the groove width in accordance with the signal amplitude) is identical to the delayed musical signal. Every step of the way we made certain the purity of the original master DSD tracks were perfectly preserved.

It should sound pretty darned close to the master.

It does not. There’s a vinyl magic that sets it apart from its source.

This drives me frickin’ bonkers. I know we’ve been many times down this road, but still…

It’ll likely be a few months before we have the finished discs so you can hear for yourself.

I think I am going to go run some cold water over my head.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Who knew?

Swiss cheese

Never question the efficacy and importance of keeping yourself and others safe during the pandemic. However, if you’re questioning your own sanity after more than a year of lockdown, here’s a story you might relate to.

Still dressed in my PJs and after spending all morning in my downstairs office answering emails, it somehow was noon.

I went upstairs for a sandwich: Swiss cheese, fresh tomato, lettuce, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, crusty bread, Bubbies naturally fermented pickle, glass of bubbly water.

Wait. As I stare at the fixings I suddenly cannot assemble the sandwich.

I am flummoxed.

Why does Swiss cheese have holes? In all the years I have eaten the holy Ementaller variety known as Swiss, I have taken its holes for granted.

I am an engineer, for God’s sake. I must know how everything works and why!

(See what I mean? Trapped inside the house I am getting desperate)

Turns out to be kind of simple. The bacteria S. thermophilus and Lactobacillus are responsible for converting milk to cheese by the production of lactic acid. In the Swiss version, which is left to “mature” at 80˚ Fahrenheit, a third bacteria, P. shermani releases carbon dioxide when it consumes the lactic acid, forming gas bubbles.

Basically, the bacteria farts out carbon dioxide and its farts form bubbles in the warm and soft cheese, and voila! Holy Swiss Cheese.

Now, whatever else dull and boring can I unearth as I try and keep myself on top of things when stuck at home?

Reading! Two great book suggestions:

The Body: A guide for occupants by Bill Bryson (which is second only to his first book, my favorite: A Short History of Nearly Everything)

And, if you want to scare the crap out of yourself and consider perhaps losing your phone, computer, and maybe investing in an off-grid home in the woods:

Weapons of Math Destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. This will explain to you much of what has been happening to our democracy.

ht: Seth Godin for the WMD read

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.


Of the hundreds of people I have been privileged to know it’s the oddballs, the characters, the off-the-charts bonkers people I remember most.

I am not sure why I am so attracted to the oddballs.

I remember the first time I met the Bedini Brothers. Crazy as loons but brilliant. I’ll never get the image of John Bedini, just inches from my face, berating me for believing the RIAA phono curve existed.

Or Enid Lumley telling me how much better our phono stage sounded when upside down.

Or Mike Moffat excitedly demonstrating to me and Stan the difference a loudspeaker cable made.

Or smoking a joint in Threshold’s CES room with Nelson Pass.

Or desperately trying to focus on the deep insights of Bob Carver when, over dinner and drinks, his hairpiece had gone askew.

I could go on.

It’s the oddballs I love.

I don’t remember the normal.

Each day is a chance to live life to its fullest.

Let’s all grab it when we can.